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Nine Wisconsin residents charged with marijuana trafficking

In June we wrote that Wisconsin authorities arrested 24 defendants in connection with an alleged drug ring and a separate illegal gambling ring. The drug bust was one of the largest in Wisconsin's recent history.

Late last month, Wisconsin law enforcement was at it again. This time, nine defendants from the Milwaukee area were charged with marijuana trafficking and using the US mail to ship controlled substances. If convicted, the group's leaders face decades in prison and millions of dollars in fines.

The arrests came after an ongoing investigation which began in 2010. Authorities began to take a closer look at a series of suspicious packages that were shipped from the Houston, Texas area to various locations around Milwaukee. Federal officials have accused the defendants of using the US mail to ship at least 220 pounds of marijuana.

Police have arrested 8 of the 9 defendants accused of the crime. Of those, 3 men are said to be the group's leaders and they face additional charges for drug conspiracy. If convicted, they face between 5 and 40 years in prison, in addition to a maximum of $5 million in fines.

As with most drug crimes, authorities will likely try charge the defendants with as many crimes as possible. The particularly severe sentences and fines are likely the result of two factors.

First, the large quantity of marijuana should be more than enough for prosecutors to pursue drug trafficking rather than just possession. Second, all defendants are charged with using the US mail to facilitate marijuana distribution.

It is illegal to use the mail system to ship controlled substances. As such, each defendant faces a potential sentence of up to four years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Because authorities often over-charge drug crimes, it is important to seek legal help. A good criminal defense attorney can help drug crime defendants receive a fair trial and minimize potential consequences.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,"9 Milwaukee residents charged with trafficking 220 pounds of marijuana," Gitte Laasby, Aug. 26, 2011

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